Saturday, 31 March 2007

64 no more

In 1964, my mum and dad and my sister, who was about a year old at the time, moved from north London to Boston for a couple of years. My dad had been offered a post-doctoral position at Massachusetts General Hospital, which I gather is linked to Harvard Medical School. I had always been quite proud of this fact, and so I was pleased we were taking a train up to Boston from New York to collect our hire car. We would get to spend a night in Boston and our road trip across America would officially begin there. We would also see if we could find 64 Kirkland Street, the house where my parents had lived between 1964 and 1966

We thought we might not get to sit together on the 4 hour train journey from New York, as it would seem that Americans have the ‘double-seat’ syndrome even worse than we Brits do. Each double-seat was taken up by a lone traveler with a strategically placed bag next to them. Even when Rachel asked a couple facing each other with their legs and bags on the vacant seats if we could sit on the unoccupied seats, they replied "our bags are there”. So helpful. We eventually settled for seats one behind the other, and I asked the lady (I say lady…) whom I would be sitting next to if she minded switching seats with Rachel behind so that we could sit together as we had work to do (a white lie, I know, but it sounded better than saying we wanted to sit together so we could hold hands).

“Does she have a window seat?”, the lady asked in return. Rachel didn’t have a window seat. “Then I’m not moving”. Cow. I decided instead to try my luck with an elderly Chinese woman (I don’t think it was the same one from Times Square…) a couple of seats back. Bingo. She seemed happy to move so that Rachel and I could sit together. You can say what you like about the Chinese but they do think of others (even to the point of warning you about the the mark of the Beast [see New York Times 2 post...]).

Once in Boston, our short stay (at the Omni Parker House hotel, the oldest hotel in the United States!) included the obligatory visit to the ‘Cheers’ bar, both the bar that was the original inspiration for Cheers, and the newer replica Cheers bar at Quincy market where I even got to sit in Norm’s seat! (Favourite Norm-ism is “Women, you can’t live with them… pass the beer nuts”.)

The next morning we took the T (Boston’s tube) to Harvard. Our mission this morning was to take a photograph of 64 Kirkland Street. Finding Kirkland Street was easy. Finding no. 64 was not so easy. That was because it wasn’t there. 62 Kirkland Street was there. But after that it went to a set of what I guess would be condominiums numbered 70-1, 70-2, up to 70-8. No 64! I tried knocking on the door of no. 62 to find out if they could shed any light on what had happened to 64 but alas there was nobody home.

So that was that. 64 Kirkland Street was no more. My parents' home from when they were here over 40 years ago no longer existed. And I guess that's it... it was over 40 years ago, and time moves on. Today is actually my parent's 45th wedding anniversary. So happy anniversary mum and dad! Here's to the next 45...

New York Times 2

Like other places filled with traipsing tourists, Times Square is filled with people trying to shove pieces of paper into your hand as you walk by. Some of these are simply trying to encourage you to visit a comedy club around the corner, or one of the many Broadway or off-Broadway musicals. All very well. What I found more interesting were the people holding out flyers for religious reasons. One of the more bizarre was the elderly Chinese woman who was handing out pieces of paper with the warning not to get the mark of the Beast, which is 666 if you didn't know (shame on you if you didn't). Of course I took the paper, and I read it with interest. and having done so, I'm not really sure what her point was. She wasn't trying to sell a particular church or anything. She just felt the need to warn people of the Beast and his mark. A free service as it were. And for that I suppose I should be grateful.

A little further along the sidewalk was Lloyd. I didn't know his name was Lloyd at this point, he was just another person handing out flyers to passers by. Lloyd's flyers were professionally printed glossy cards inviting us to go and watch an "orientation" video about the virtues of Scientology. Now normally I would just keep on walking and probably not even accept the card as it was held out to me. But not this time. This time I showed an interest, and I learned that the New York office of the Church of Scientology was just round the corner. We toyed with the idea of paying a visit, but the lure of the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building proved too much and so we assured Lloyd that we might come and view the film tomorrow.

And that's exactly what we did. The next day (after our return visit to the camera shop), we crossed Times Square to see what Scientology had to offer us. Inside the impressive church/office building, we were greeted by a receptionist who ushered us down some stairs to another receptionist. We explained to the second receptionist that we were here to see the orientation video. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, Lloyd appeared. He explained that the orientation video lasted about 45 minutes and that it would be showing again in about 20 minutes, but while we were waiting we could look at a display that explained some of the ideas behind Scientology and "Dianetics" the so-called science of the mind upon which much of Scientology was based.

It was at this point that I think both Rachel and I started to have concerns that maybe we had already taken things a little too far. For me, it was probably the slightly-too-firm grip of Lloyd's handshake as he asked us our names and led me by the hand down a corridor further into the building. We were already forming our excuses.

"We're keen to see the orientation video", I explained, "but we are due to meet friends in Central Park at around 3.30pm", I fibbed, looking at a clock to pick a time that would give us about 30 minutes to spare for the Scientologists.

"That's OK", said Lloyd, who had probably heard every excuse in the book. "I suggest you watch the Dianetics video. That lasts only 15 minutes, and gives you an introduction to some of the ideas behind Scientology." That sounded like a good compromise.

Lloyd led us into a small auditorium (i.e., a room with no windows) in which there were rows of seats laid out facing a cinema screen on one wall. We were the only ones there. Lloyd turned out the lights and left the room as the film started. The film was a glossily produced, but poorly acted, attempt to introduce the basic ideas behind Dianetics, a "modern science of mental health" devised by the founder of Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard. Some of the ideas I had no trouble with. For example, I'm happy to accept that we can be affected by events that have happened to us in the past, and that if we increase our awareness of how these influence us we might be better for it. This seems to be a major part of what Dianetics is saying. However, the reliance on what seemed to be pop-psychology concepts like the "analytical mind" and the "reactive mind" didn't sit too well. About half way through the video, both Rachel and I suddenly started to wonder how easy it would be for us to actually get out of the building. And once this panic set in, it was hard to shift. I even suggested that maybe they were recording everything we were saying, after which I was careful not to say anything critical about the insightful and well acted film we were watching.

The moment the film ended, the strip lights were turned back on (who needs retinas?), and a young man appeared holding a couple of clip boards. No sign of Lloyd. Oh dear, they're dragging us in, I thought! The panic was uncalled for. He simply wanted our opinions on the film, some contact details, and to know if we'd be interested in attending one of their seminars.

So we survived! We had a chance to talk further with Lloyd when he reappeared (how does he do that?), and we even bought a couple of books on Dianetics so we could do some further research. We re-emerged in Times Square and continued on our walk to Central Park to meet our "friends". All we need to do now is make sure we avoid getting the mark of the Beast.

More information about Dianetics and Scientology can be found at and (I don't think the elderly Chinese woman has a website.)

Friday, 30 March 2007

New York Times 1

Our first taste of Times Square seemed unreal. I think it was all the more impressive as we kind of stumbled upon it by accident (it was less than a block away from our hotel). It really was a case of bright lights, big city! The constant movement of the hugely colourful advertising displays against the backdrop of the clear blue sky, the stream of yellow taxis, and the thousands of people made London's Piccadilly Circus seem, well, a bit crap.

We were in need of a camera. As there were a few camera shops handily located on Times Square, we popped into one of these to see what we could pick up. We opted for a neat little Casio model in a rather fetching blue. At $350, it was probably a little more than we had hoped to pay but roughly equivalent to what we would have paid back in the UK. The $200 we had to pay for a 1Gb memory card seemed a bit steep but not completely unreasonable and something we needed if we wanted to take more than 10 pictures before having to download the pics on to the computer. At least we could now record the unreality of Times Square, the majesty of the Statue of Liberty, and the breathtaking views from the top of the Empire State Building. We even took a photograph of the nice man who sold us the camera with his not-at-all-gay friend (see below).

It wasn't until the next day that Rachel revealed that she had since looked on the internet and discovered that we paid well over the odds for the camera we had bought. Even more galling was the price of 1Gb memory cards online: $50! I believe we had been what is commonly called "shafted". In our rush to record the technicolour beauty of Times Square we had foolishly handed over more Monopoly money than we should have (Rach had actually put it on her credit card, but you get my point).

At this point we had two choices. Either we forget about it, put it down to experience and get on with things (vowing to take extra care in the future). Or we take the camera back and ask for our money back. We wanted our money back, but we knew this would not be an easy thing to do (we are British after all!). Once we had located the receipt, the decision was made for us. In block capitals across the slip of paper it stated, in no uncertain terms, NO REFUNDS. Shit. (It didn't say "shit" on the receipt... that's my reaction to the No Refunds bit. But you knew that, right?)

It seemed that all was lost. Until we noticed that it did say that exchanges could be made within 7 days. Maybe we could salvage something. Not a refund, but perhaps we could change the camera for a better model, or get a memory card with more memory. Or something. Anything that might make us feel a little less foolish. And if we had no success then at least we had tried. Then we could put it down to experience.

As we walked back to the shop we agreed that our best chance of having some success was to be as open and friendly as possible with the salesman rather than telling him exactly what we thought of him. In fact, all we initially complained about was the fact that camera had only come with a very basic instruction manual and so we weren't able to work the camera's various features. We told him that as we were now aware that we had paid well over the odds for the camera, we at least expected we should have an instruction manual! Almost immediately he offered to replace the camera for a different, more expensive, model. We tried to hide our delight. We must have been at least somewhat successful in doing so, as within minutes he also offered to replace the 1Gb memory card with a card with 4 (count them... four!) Gb of memory. Result. We thanked him and edged our way back out into the bustle of Times Square. We had learned an important lesson that day. In fact we had learned two lessons. First, a fool and his money (or her money) are soon parted. Second, and perhaps more importantly, smile when you're complaining and you might just get your money back (or a 4Gb memory card!).

The Lady Vanishes

What does it mean to be “free”? If we are free, what does this freedom allow or entitle us to do? One of America’s best known symbols of freedom has stood proudly in New York harbour since 1886, reminding US citizens that they are resident in the land of the free.

On the centenary of the Statue of Liberty’s erection (steady on…), magician David Copperfield made her disappear. In his uniquely smarmy way, he used nothing more than the power of his mind and a few tonnes of hydraulics to vanish Lady Liberty and remind America of what this monument symbolizes. In designing this grand illusion, he told the millions of TV viewers watching, he had explained to his co-conspirators that it was important that the statue must reappear. Yeah, right. Like he could figure out a way to make it “disappear” that didn’t mean it would have to “reappear”. Twat. He implied that without the Statue of Liberty, the USA would no longer have it’s Freedom. As I say… twat. It would appear that nobody told Dave that if the Statue disappears then your freedom doesn’t disappear along with it. (Check out Dave's smarminess and silver jacket as he makes the Statue disappear on youtube.)

(By the way, I presume I don’t I need to point out that this is not the same David Copperfield written about by Charles Dickens. Nor is it the same one who was the star of the 1980’s TV sketch show Three of a Kind, supported by Tracy Ullman and Lenny Henry.)

On our visit to Liberty Island, we too found this remarkable monument to be a worthy reminder of the “freedom” we so often take for granted. Especially as we had to pass through two airport-style security checks to reach the statue.

But the question still remains. What does it mean to be “free”? I found an interesting answer to this question in a quote from Jean-Paul Sartre displayed next to one of the exhibits in the museum in the Statue’s pedestal. It read “Liberty is not the power to do what one wants, but it is the desire to what one can.” Wise words mate.

Thursday, 29 March 2007

That darn cube!

Rubik's Cube

As I mentioned in a previous post, I was recently bought a Rubik's Cube as a Christmas present by my sister.
3 mins to 2 mins.
now focus on number of moves rather than speed

29 March 07: 120 moves

29 March: 101 moves
b njn

Bright Lights, Big City

"New York, New York! So good they named it twice..."

Well, that’s the easy bit done! Continental Airlines delivered us safely to Newark pretty much right on schedule (thanks dad, by the way, for the lift to the airport this morning through rush hour traffic… I hope you agree that the half eaten Jamaican Ginger Cake more than repays the favour!).

All we need to do now is negotiate our way across the 3,000 or so miles across the US to LA over the coming weeks. Piece of piss. But before we do that we want to experience all that NYC has to offer. They say that it is the city that never sleeps. Really? I'm not so sure... within half an hour of arriving at our hotel, both Rachel (or should I say Thelma) and I were fast asleep. So that's one myth busted already!

To be honest, I don't think this is a reflection on the Big Apple itself. Neither of us had slept on the flight as we watched the in-flight movie (Bewitched) and chatted to a Professor of Law in the seat next to us about the economic analysis of law and the concept of 'karma' (as you do...). So we were both in need of a nap.

On landing at Newark Liberty, we passed through Immigration without a hitch. We almost got caught out by those sneaky questions on the green Visa waiver we had filled out on the plane. But fortunately we were able to answer these honestly and say that we were not seeking entry to the United States to engage in criminal or immoral activities, that were had never been involved in espionage, sabotage or genocide, and that between 1933 and 1945 we had not been involved, in any way, in persecutions associated with Nazi Germany or its allies. (I wonder how many spies or Nazi sympathizers they catch with those?)

Our cab driver who brought us into Manhattan was Hassan. Rachel discovered that he was originally from Egypt. I say "discovered" as though she pieced together a number of subtle clues in much the same way Inspector Morse might have done, whereas her direct questioning ("where are you from?") was probably more in the style of Sergeant Lewis. Hassan proceeded to tell us that he now lived in New Jersey, having moved to the USA from Cairo 27 years ago. In fact, Rachel and Hassan struck up quite a conversation as Rachel explained she had visited Cairo some years before, and I was impressed to learn that she also knew one word of Arabic... "Enchala" (no doubt spelled wrong...). It means "God willing". I liked that. And the more Hassan turned to face Rachel in the back of the car as he veered from one lane to another the more I could hear the word going round in my head. But he did get us to our hotel, the Hotel QT on West 45th Street, in one piece so he earned his tip (which we had to pay in dollars as we had given away our last piece of Jamaican Ginger Cake that morning).

So, as I say, that's the easy bit done. Now the fun really starts...

Tuesday, 27 March 2007

Road Trip!

"California, here I come... right back where I started from!" Well, that's not strictly true. I didn't start in California at all. I started in a little place called Tarvin, near Chester, in England. But that's not important right now.

The important thing is that I'm coming/going (I don't know if I'm coming or going...) to California! In fact, not just California. California will be the end point of a road trip across the USA! We fly out to New York tomorrow, spend a few days there before taking the train up to Boston. In Boston we pick up a hire car, tour New England, and then pick a route across the States to ensure that we arrive in Los Angeles in time to catch a flight back home on April 21st. It is going to be a trip of a lifetime.

There are many reasons for this trip (although would you need a reason?). The main reason is that Rachel, my partner, has always wanted to do a road trip across America. This year she turns 30 and so it seemed as good a time as any to go and do it. And who am I to stop her? The original "plan" (there was no plan, we had just talked about it a little) was to maybe go in August. We would then have a few months to plan the trip and contact people we both knew in the States. Then things changed. Something inside suggested that we didn't need to wait until August. We could go at Easter. Before we knew it, we had booked the flights.

Coincidentally, (we'll talk about coincidences another time...) there are other reasons why this is a good time to go. One of these is that by going now I will have an opportunity to meet up with some potentially important people to do with my work (again, more on that another time). So it all seems to be working out.

It'll be just like Thelma and Louise! Only I'm not a woman... And we don't plan on killing anyone... And I hope we don't drive off any cliffs. But apart from that it will be just like Thelma and Louise!

Sunday, 25 March 2007

The Spiritual Zone

Is there a "Spiritual Zone"? Gary Quinn seems to think so. And he should know because he lives there. And he says you can too! I think Gary actually lives in Beverly Hills in California, but I'm guessing the Spiritual Zone isn't a geographical thing, nor is it to do with the size of the house you live in. No, according to Gary, the Spiritual Zone is "a welcoming place of trust, peace, love, belonging, joy and abundance". Cool. (A house in Beverly Hills is just a bonus.)

On a recent trip to the library, I picked up Gary's book Living in the Spiritual Zone (published by Hodder Mobius). The book's subtitle is 10 Steps to Change Your Life and Discover Your Truth. That's right. It's one of those New Agey type self-help books that in the past I would be so dismissive about. But that was the old me. The new me decided to borrow the book. And who knows, I might even get round to reading it.

That was a few months ago. Having re-newed the book with the library a few times, I did finally get round to reading it. And do you know what? It was actually pretty good! He talks about all the stuff that these kinds of books usually talk about (love, truth, forgiveness... that kind of shit) in a way that is very accessible and isn't too "preachy". In fact, it all made a lot of sense.

I guess the next step would be to put it into practice. But when I do, there'll be no stopping me... Beverly Hills, here I come!

Friday, 23 March 2007

Robot fish

Last weekend I found myself in London. I don't mean that in a "spiritual" sense, in the way that you might go to India to "find yourself", I mean that I just happened to be in London for a friend's birthday party.

Whilst there, we decided to visit the London Aquarium. As is the case with most aquariums (or should that be aquaria?), there was a good range of fish on offer from huge great sharks to tiny clownfish (which reminds me, I must watch Finding Nemo one of these days). One tank in particular caught my attention. The sign at the top said "Robot Fish", and swimming around inside were three fish that had small flashing lights on their backs. As far as I was concerned, if it wasn't for the flashing lights, these could have been real fish. They looked like real fish, they moved like real fish and, who knows, maybe they would have even tasted like real fish!

As I walked away from the robot fish, I was left wondering... if they can make those fish look and act like real fish, how do I know that the rest of the fish on display weren't also robot fish?

I can't help feeling I've been duped.

Elephants and Donkeys Grow Big Ears

Wednesday, 21 March 2007

Does God play with a Rubik's Cube?

If you're around the same age as me (I'll be 37 this year) you'll remember Rubik's Cube. It became massively popular in the early 1980's and you probably owned one when you were somewhere between 10 and 14 years old. I did. And I remember playing with it for hours at a time in my bedroom (at least that's my story and I'm sticking to it). Like anyone else who fiddled with it (the cube that is), I was trying to figure out how on earth you were supposed to get each of the six sides of the cube to be made up of a single colour! It seemed impossible. In fact, as far as I was concerned it was. Until I bought a book.

It was called something like How to Solve the Rubik's Cube and it explained how to, well, solve the Rubik's Cube (thereby justifying its title) by taking you through the different combinations of turns of each face of the cube you would need to do in order to solve it. It was complicated stuff and so you needed a heck of a lot of patience to follow the guide and solve the cube (or more accurately you needed to be in desperate need of a social life). Luckily for me, I had zero social life and patience is my middle name (it's actually David but I'm making a point here). So while my peers were out chasing girls, I was spending much of my precious time engaged in 'cubing'. And it was time well spent, as it wasn't long before I was able to solve the cube! Okay, it may have taken me a couple of weeks, but I had done it. And sure, I had needed the help of a book to achieve it, but nevertheless I had solved the Rubik's Cube! Friends of mine may well have been out losing their virginity, but I had found a way to make each side of a coloured plastic toy consist of all one colour. Do we need to ask which is more important?

With practice, I was able to reduce the time it took me to solve the cube. The second time I completed the cube it took me just a few hours. The third time I managed to solve it in less than an hour. Impressive, eh? With each attempt, the time it took to solve the cube got shorter and shorter. It wasn't long before I could solve it in less than 10 minutes and then in less than 5 minutes! My eventual record was 1 minute 22 seconds! (In fact I have a memory that on one occasion, while watching Blockbusters, I completed the cube in a fraction of a second under a minute but on the very final turn of the cube, a cheap imitation cube and not a "real" Rubik's Cube, the whole thing just fell apart).

I hear you asking: So what? What is so interesting about the fact that I, like thousands or possibly millions of other youngsters at that time, spent an unhealthy proportion of my teens playing with a Rubik's Cube? It's a good question, which is why I'm glad you asked it. And if I'm honest I'm not sure I know the answer. If nothing else, it's just a bit of nostalgia. And a bit of nostalgia never did anyone any harm.

The nostalgia was brought back with full force when I unwrapped a Christmas present from my sister last year. It was a Rubik's Cube. A real Rubik's Cube, not a cheap imitation one, but a real one! As I removed it from its packaging, I was amazed at how the mere feel of the cube took me back more than 20 years as I remembered how it felt to hold a cube back then. It was a strange sensation. As I started to slowly turn the faces of the cube, it triggered some long "forgotten" memories of having done this as a teenager. Within minutes I found myself remembering some fairly simple moves to complete the top layer of the cube (i.e., making one side a block of one colour, with the top layer of the four surrounding sides also in place). I impressed myself! What's more, without really thinking about what I was doing, a few turns later I had completed the second layer. The final layer was the hardest, because the aim is to get the remaining few pieces into place without displacing the pieces on the first and second layer that are already in place. But again, I soon found myself almost unconsciously remembering the moves that were required to solve the last parts of the puzzle. Within a matter of hours of picking up the cube for the first time in over 20 years, I had solved it! I was amazed (as I can tell you are). I was amazed that this information (and let's face it, fairly useless information) had somehow been tucked away in my brain all this time so that 20 odd years later I was able to retrieve it so readily. It just goes to show how much information seems to be stored in this big lump of goo in our head (please stop me if I'm getting too technical by the way).

I still sense you're sitting there (or standing, but probably sitting) thinking... "And? So? Your point is?!". Do I have a point? I guess the point is that I think we typically underestimate how much information or knowledge we hold on to in our brains without even knowing about it. Even though we don't realise it, things we may have done as a child are still stored away and you may be surprised how much you remember when something triggers that childhood memory. And who knows, maybe the Rubik's Cube is in some weird way symbolic of life itself. A puzzle to solve. 42 million combinations, but only one solution. Or maybe it's just a toy.

On this last note, I am reminded of the trendy vicar types who used to, and maybe still do, appear on Radio 4's Thought For The Day and might talk as I have about Rubik's Cubes thinking these are still a part of popular culture. And then, in a desperate attempt to crowbar God into things, might say something like, "...and, you know, in a funny sort of way Jesus is like a Rubik's Cube, isn't he?". Nice try vicar. But let's face it, He isn't.



Saturday, 17 March 2007

Big Issue

John Bird set up Big Issue.
Book: How to Change Your Life in 7 Steps.


Friday, 16 March 2007

Yo Mother!

It's Mother's Day on Sunday (I'm never sure if it should be Mother's Day or Mothers' Day?). Don't panic if you're reading this in the US (forever hopeful that my blog is being read across the Atlantic!)... you guys don't celebrate your mothers until May. So you still have plenty of time to leave present-buying to the last minute. Here in the UK, this time is already upon us.

The question is what to buy? A card from the petrol station round the corner doesn't really seem to do the job. I'm not sure it really says "Happy Mother's Day... thanks for all you have done for me, for giving me life, caring for me, loving me, and for still doing my washing for me even when I left home". Perhaps a box of chocolates would say that?

I don't know about you (how could I?), but I do often find buying presents quite a hard thing to do. Maybe it's because I'm a man, but buying presents can be quite stressful at times! Especially if you're buying for a woman, whether it's your mum or the other special lady in your life (no, I'm not talking about that woman who works behind the bar at the White Horse). Because women like different things to men, don't they? Things like creams, lotions, smelly candles, that kind of stuff (I can sense now that the men reading this are already beginning to drift off...). And how much do you spend? They'll tell you that it's the thought that counts, but I get the feeling that, by and large, more expensive thoughts count for more!

As Mother's Day approaches, not only do I think of my own mum (of course), but I also find myself thinking of another mum. A woman I've not met personlly, but who I find enormously inspiring. Her name is Gee Verona Walker. Many of you will not have heard of her, or will at least not know her name. However, some of you will have seen her in television news reports following the murder of her 18 year 0ld son, Anthony, in July 2005.

Late on 29 July 2005, Anthony Walker was waiting with his girlfriend and his cousin at a bus stop near his home in a suburb of Liverpool. While they were waiting, another teenager started shouting abuse at them, and so they decided to walk to the next bus stop, taking a short cut through a park. They were then ambushed by two youths, one of whom was now carrying an ice axe. Anthony was killed by a single blow to the head with the axe.

The judge at the murder trial, which found two men guilty of the killing, concluded that it had been racially motivated. Anthony was black, his attackers were white, and it had been racist abuse that had been shouted by one of his attackers earlier at the bus stop.

Why am I telling you this, I hear you ask. I started off with what seemed to be a light-hearted look at Mother's Day, and now I'm talking about a horrific murder that took place almost 2 years ago. And what has any of this got to do with being 'spiritual'??

Well, following Anthony Walker's murder, there was a huge amount of media coverage, first about the murder itself and then about the police investigation and the subsequent trial. During this time, it was the behaviour of Anthony's mother, Gee, that stuck in my memory. Gee Walker held a very strong Christian faith, and because of this she found it in her heart to forgive the men who had killed her son. She was truly able to forgive them for what they had done.

Following the conviction of her son's killers she sai
d, "Unforgiveness makes you a victim and why should I be a victim? Anthony spent his life forgiving. His life stood for peace, love and forgiveness and I brought them up that way" she said following the conviction of her son's killers. "I have to practice what I preach. I don't feel any bitterness towards them really, truly, all I feel is... I feel sad for the family."

I don't know how many of us would be able to do the same thing. To forgive someone for deliberately and so violently taking the life of our child. and the 'reason' being because of the colour of his skin.

Since Anthony's murder, Gee Walker has continued to work tirelessly to ensure that her son's death was not in vain. She and her family have set up the Anthony Walker Foundation dedicated to educate children about racism. All in all, a truly inspirational woman with an inspirational family.

So maybe I'm thinking too much about what I buy my mum for Mother's Day. Maybe it doesn't really matter, as long as I tell her and show her that I love her. Perhaps more importantly, I need to learn to tell her this more often, as one day one of us won't be there to say it or hear it.

Wednesday, 14 March 2007


Are you a smoker or a non-smoker? The question implies you are one or the other. So which is it to be? Smoker or non-smoker?

Today I am a non-smoker. And not just because it is National No Smoking Day. I have been a non-smoker for the past 2 months, 15 days, and about 8 hours (not that I'm counting...), having given up at the end of last year. But it's not the first time I have stopped smoking. Before this time, I gave up smoking around 7 years ago and didn't have a cigarette for over 6 years!

I smoked my first cigarette in my late teens. Both my parents smoked, and I used to go on at them about how they should stop smoking. Then one day, I thought I'd try one. I secretly took one of my dad's Silk Cut (I was straight on the hard stuff) and went upstairs and locked myself in the bathroom. I remember thinking the taste of it was awful as I lent out of the window. But it didn't stop me doing it again a few days later. And I suppose I eventually developed a taste for them, or at least I learned to ignore just how horrible they did taste. And I was at that age. I was just starting to go to pubs, and so perhaps I thought it was 'cool' to be smoking cigarettes... all the cool people smoke, don't they?

So I became a smoker for the next 10 years or so. And then I stopped and became a non-smoker for 6 years. Then last year, I started again and became a smoker. And now, as I've said, I am a non-smoker. Have been for the last 2 months, 15 days, 8 hours and 20 minutes (not that I'm counting...).

So I guess I'm saying it might make more sense not to think of yourself as a smoker or a non-smoker, but rather simply someone who has either recently smoked cigarettes or not. Maybe you'll carry on smoking cigarettes tomorrow, maybe you won't. After all, tomorrow is another day (how's that for profound?).

Now, if you're a smoker and you're wanting to become a non-smoker (although didn't I just say perhaps we shouldn't think of ourselves as smokers or non-smokers? Oh well...), you'll realise it is really hard. As well as dealing with the addiction to nicotine (does anyone else remember the stop smoking adverts on TV with the evil Nick O'Tine?), there is also the habitual aspect of smoking. When we give up smoking, we have to give up a way of thinking.

When you're a smoker (we're doing it again!) it is extremely difficult to think like a non-smoker. It is hard to imagine life without cigarettes. In fact, it is not until you are able to experience life without smoking that you can appreciate that it is possible to do without them, just like it was possible to do without them before you first started smoking. Yes, no matter how long you've been smoking there was a time when you weren't a smoker. Of course, I've never met you but I'm guessing you didn't arrive into this world with a Marlboro Light in your mouth asking the midwife if she had a light.

The thing with cigarettes is that once you have picked up the habit it becomes mightily difficult to imagine life without them. You can't ever imagine going to the pub and not smoking, or imagine not lighting one up when you sit down to enjoy your cup of coffee. But it is possible. It is possible to enjoy life without cigarettes. In fact, you get your life back. You get to choose where to go for lunch and not be restricted by where you can smoke (which will soon be even more restricted!).

I don't want to turn into one of those irritating ex-smokers who go on and on about the terrible habit that they've managed to conquer. And I don't want to nag anyone to give up smoking (been there and done that when I was a teenager). But if you are trying to stop smoking, or at least trying to not have a cigarette today, then best of luck. And if you don't manage to give up straight away, don't beat yourself up about it. You can always try again. But, believe me, it is worth the effort.

Sunday, 11 March 2007

Butterflies in Brazil and Tornadoes in Texas

I have recently found myself thinking more and more about the so-called "butterfly effect", and this isn't simply because the film of the same name was on TV last weekend. Now, as I understand it, the butterfly effect
Cosmic ripples
action and consequences
small actions can have enormous consequences
For everything a reason


David Copperfield Death Saw no.1 in 50 Best Magic Tricks (Blaine's levitation was at no. 2) originally made in 2002
Grand Canyon
Statur of Liberty

Blackpool Magic Convention

Derren Brown?

He's the guitar man

Do you play a musical instrument? Ever since I was a kid, I have wanted to be able to play the guitar. Or at least I've liked the idea of being able to play some kind of instrument, and I guess the guitar would have been my instrument of choice.

It's not as though I have a burning desire to play Eddie Van Halen or Jimi Hendrix guitar solos or anything (although...), it's just that it would be nice to be able to pick up a guitar now and again and play the odd tune or even just a bar or two of Kum By Yah.

So yesterday I had a guitar lesson. My first ever guitar lesson! It was a free taster session and was a group lesson, so it wasn't just me on my own. There were five others: Dana (age 8), Mark (age 9), Billy (12), Clare (10) and Gerrard (11). And me (age 36). At first I felt like the kid who had been kept back a year at school (or rather 25 years!), but the guitar teacher, Vernon, was used to teaching classes with such different ages and so he soon made me feel at home (also, the fact that Dana's dad and Mark's mum sat in on the class probably helped).

Vernon asked each of us why we wanted to learn to play the guitar. Neither Mark, Billy, Clare nor Gerrard seemed to know why they wanted to learn. They responded with a shrug. Dana managed to avoid being asked this awkward question altogether by turning up late. When it came to me, I thought I'd try to help Vern out and said "Well, I want to be a rock star!", hoping to raise a laugh or at least a smile from my fellow students. Nothing. Instead they all looked blankly at me, no doubt thinking how sad that this grown man still believed he could actually one day be a rock star. Even Mark's mum tutted and slowly shook her head.

But I wasn't to be put off. Vernon showed us the kind of songs we would learn to play on the course, and within no time we were able to shout out "head... neck... body" as Vernon pointed to the different parts of the guitar. This exercise seemed to be beneath Gerrard, who was sat next to me. Gerrard could obviously play a little and even informed us he could play both left-handed and right-handed. And when you're 11 years old I guess you don't really have the patience to sit through "head... neck... body". I doubt he'll be signing up for the course.

By the end of the 45 minutes, we were strumming along to The Beatles' Get Back, and even Mark's mum had picked up a guitar and was joining in (who's the sad wannabe rock star now, eh?).

Whether or not Gerrard signs up, or even Mark and his mum, I think I'm going to sign up for the course. They say that it's good to learn a new skill later in life, so maybe it's something I need to do. Before you know it, I'll be jammin' along with Eddie and Jimi... "One, two, three... Kum By Yah, my lord, Kum By Yah...".

Friday, 9 March 2007

My son

My son is going into hospital today for an operation (to have one of his testicles lowered if you must know...). He's only 2 years old. I'm sure the doctors will look after him but it's hard to stop yourself from worrying.

Although he's only 2, it's not his first time in hospital. Far from it. He was born 11 weeks prematurely and spent the first 5 months of his life in hospital. Since then, he has been admitted back into hospital a few times with chest infections. Nor will this be his first operation. When he was only 2 weeks old, the doctors operated to close a valve on his heart that would normally close on its own. And since then he has twice been under general anaesthetic so that doctors could examine his vocal chords and his eyes.

So, it's clear that he's a strong little fella, and I'm sure he'll be okay. Still, you can't help worrying. My thoughts are with him today.

Tuesday, 6 March 2007

Seeing the bigger picture

The first time I saw a 'magic-eye' picture was in July 1993. I was in the US attending a summer course at the Foundation for Research on the Nature of Man (yes, I was into these things even back then...). Jurassic Park was showing at the movies, Take That were at number one in the UK with Pray (wonder whatever happened to those lads...?), and it was when the artist now known as Prince was wanting to be known as the artist formerly known as Prince (or a squiggle...).

It was my first time in America, and my 2 months there were almost up. I was walking through a shopping mall in Durham, North Carolina, on the look out for presents for the folks back home, leaving it till the last minute as usual. I wasn't having much luck finding suitably American souvenirs when my attention was caught by a stall in the centre of the mall. People were stood at the stall staring at unusual looking pieces of colourful artwork that were hung all around the stall. As I walked nearer, the colourful prints seemed to be made of patterns that repeated themselves over and over. The patterns themselves didn't seem especially eye-catching or aesthetically pleasing, but I was amazed at how the people stopped and gazed at these patterns for what seemed to be ages, as though transfixed by their beauty.

I carried on walking past, a little confused by these people's fascination with the pictures, as I continued my hunt for presents. I wasn't particularly successful in my present-buying mission, by the way. For example, I ended up buying my parents an "amusing" weather station that consisted of a block of wood to which was attached a stone hanging from a wire. From this is was possible to determine the weather for that day: if the stone was wet, it was raining; if the stone was swinging, it was windy. You get the idea. If the stone was gone completely, then you could conclude that it was a very windy day. Look, I thought it was funny and there's only so much you can buy for $10. To their credit, mum and dad did actually hang it up outside their home next to the front door so that visitors would be able to see it, so they must have thought it was kind of funny too (although they recently moved house and the weather station was left behind, so perhaps by then the joke was wearing thin).

Each time I walked past the stall selling the magic-eye posters, I couldn't believe that the same people were still stood there, gazing intently at these pictures! What was so good about them? Why were these people so enraptured by these rather garish and, to be honest, kind of tacky-looking pictures?

I edged towards the stall to take a closer look for myself, and noticed that there were instructions printed on a small sign next to some of the posters. These instructions explained that the patterns (created using a computer) contained hidden pictures that could only be seen if you looked at the poster in a certain way. Looking at the patterns in the usual way would not reveal the hidden pictures - all you would see would be the colourful patterns repeated again and again on the paper. In order to see the hidden pictures, you needed to look at the patterns in a very different way.

The printed sign instructed the viewer to relax the eyes and try to focus on a point beyond the paper on which the pattern was printed, rather than on the pattern itself. That is, you had to look through the poster. Now this of course is much easier said than done, which explains why so many people stood staring at these posters for 30 minutes or more at a time still only to walk away without seeing the hidden pictures and being none the wiser.

Fortunately, the owners of the stall did provide a very useful way of helping with the difficult task of looking "through" the posters. Some of the posters were framed, which meant they were also behind glass. This aided the viewer enormously as the glass allowed you to see your own reflection in the glass. This may not sound like much help but, believe me, it made the world of difference. By focusing on my reflection in the glass I was able to focus on a point beyond the surface of the poster, seeing as my reflection (as would yours) appeared as though it was the same distance behind the glass as I was in front of the glass. (So if you stand one metre in front of the glass, your reflection will appear as though it is one metre behind the glass. By the way, while we're on the subject, did you know that the size of the reflected image of your face on the glass itself, or on the surface of a mirror, is half the size of the actual size of your face? Did you also know that the size of the image remains the same no matter if you're right up close to the mirror, or standing on the other side of the room? Next time you're in the bathroom, trace the image of your face on the steamed up mirror and try it for yourself!)

So there I was, staring at my reflection in the glass with the hope that some hidden picture would magically appear before my eyes. It didn't. However, this was an important first step. The next step was to relax the eyes so that I was no longer focusing on my own reflection but I was still looking "through" the pattern. (For more details about how to see magic-eye pictures you could do a lot worse than following this link.)

The poster that I was slowly going cross-eyed at was called Lady Liberty. I could see my reflection in the glass, and I even managed to relax my eyes in such a way that I wasn't focusing on my reflection but I was still looking through the pattern. But could I see anything in the blue-green patterns that would justify the title Lady Liberty? Not a thing. Perhaps I was trying too hard?

Then, after about half an hour of staring deeply into the patterns it happened. It was as though something clicked into place. The patterns that were there on the poster suddenly seemed to take on a whole new form! I could now see shapes that I couldn't see before, shapes that simply weren't there before. And then it made sense... I could now see where the title Lady Liberty came from. In the centre of the poster, as if it had appeared from nowhere, I could now see the clear outline of the Statue of Liberty with her hand held high above her head holding a burning torch. The repeating blue-green patterns were still there. It wasn't that they had suddenly disappeared to be replaced by a photographic image of the Statue of Liberty in glorious technicolour. No the patterns were still there, it's just that they now seemed to form into another pattern that depicted the Statue of Liberty. There was also a 3D effect whereby the New York skyline behind Lady Liberty herself seemed to appear deeper within the picture in such a way that when I moved my head from side to side, the position of the statue moved in front of the skyline.

I was deeply impressed. I bought it, thinking I may give it to my brother as a present from my first trip to the USA. (I knew of course that I was going to keep it for myself.. in fact I'm not sure I ended up getting my brother anything. Hey ho.) Once I got back to the UK, I was eager to show my parents, my dad especially, this amazing picture. Remember, this was 1993 and these things hadn't made it into the shops in England by then, so I felt like I was almost showing them something on a par with colour TV for the first time! My parents' house had a large serving hatch type thing between the kitchen and dining room, which had two large sliding panes of glass. Perfect for the viewing of magic-eye pictures I thought.

With the help of my dad, I carefully slid Lady Liberty between the two panes of glass so that the blue-green pattern could be viewed behind glass when stood in the kitchen. I then explained that the image of the Statue of Liberty would appear magically if you stood and gazed at your reflection in the glass, relaxed your eyes, and so on. Of course, it took some time but eventually they saw it. My mum saw it first, but I don't think she was that impressed by it (or at least not as impressed as I thought she should be!). My dad took a lot longer. By the time he saw it, my mum and I had got rather bored of staring into the picture, and had moved ourselves into the living room and were watching something suitably high-brow on TV (Bullseye I think it was). We had actually forgotten about my dad in the kitchen who, bless him, was still gazing into the blue-green yonder.

Then, all of a sudden, "Oh, I see it... Amazing!". He seemed impressed. I was pleased. It's nice when you can give people pleasurable little experiences like that. Especially your own parents.

Now I know what you're thinking. Why on earth am I telling you this story about the first magic-eye picture I saw? Well, I guess I'm telling you for a number of reasons, but the main reason at this point is because part of me wonders whether seeing magic-eye pictures is in some way analogous to how we view the world around us (an idea inspired by my friend and colleague, Carl Williams, who I first heard suggest this at a conference back in 1995).

If you look at a magic-eye picture in the usual way, you will just see random-looking patterns that don't really make much sense. They may be pretty or colourful but that's as far as it goes. However, if you look at the patterns in a very different way... if you're able to change the way you think about the patterns, and view them from a very different perspective, then you see the bigger picture. From this new perspective, the patterns suddenly makes sense, and the picture that was at first hidden is now revealed. It's also interesting (or at least it is to me!) that some people find it relatively easy to see the hidden pictures, while others have real difficulties in seeing them. Magic-eye pictures are based on stereograms and so binocular vision (i.e., two working eyes) are needed to see them. However, even people with 20-20 vision sometimes find it hard to relax their eyes, and their minds, sufficiently to allow the picture to come into view.

Perhaps the way in which we view the world is a bit like this? Maybe it requires a fairly fundamental shift in perspective from our "normal" way of thinking about things to see the bigger picture. Maybe we need to be able to "relax our minds" in a certain way to see through the random-looking patterns of daily life and get a deeper understanding of what's there.

Or maybe not. Either way, it's a great feeling when you get that "Oh, I see it!" moment. And it's even better when you hear your dad get it.

Karma is a funny thing...

So says the tagline of one of my favourite TV shows, My Name is Earl. I seemed to miss this show when it first appeared on Channel 4 in the UK, or rather I kind of ignored it. I heard it was funny, but I never got round to watching it. Anyway, I recently bought the boxed DVD set of season 1. The show is fantastic. Not only is it really funny, but it makes an important point about how your actions can have big consequences. I want to talk more about this idea in later posts, but for now let me just urge you to watch the show.

The show is about Earl (you guessed that much) and his belief that the reason bad stuff happens to him is that he has done bad things in his life. He's stolen and lied and generally just messed around. Even when good things happen to him (like winning $100,000 on a scratchcard), this is immediately followed by something bad happening (getting knocked down by a car!). He figures it's all to do with Karma... what goes around, comes around. And so he makes a list of all the bads things he's done in his life and sets about putting things right.

It's brilliantly written, acted, and produced. And it makes you think... maybe there is something to this thing called Karma.

Monday, 5 March 2007

Turning 30!

by Rachel

In just under two months I am going to turn the big 3, 0, and up until a few weeks ago it hadn’t bothered me in the slightest. In fact I was one of those people who would insist, ‘I am not worried about turning 30, why would I be’. I was more worried about avoiding celebrating my thirtieth because of my pathological hate for birthdays, rather than the actual fact that I was going to be 30.

And then it happened. I started to panic.

Over the last few weeks I have been delving more into this ‘Turning 30’ lark. Though all I seem to keep getting told by websites and articles is that I should have done a parachute jump, travelled the world, lived in a different country, had a threesome, been involved in some form of kinky sex, paid off my credit cards, own my own house, own a sports car etc. etc.. Surely there are deeper concerns than these?

I am going to be 30, and I feel as if I haven’t achieved anything I wanted to achieve. I’m not married, in fact, I am not even engaged. I guess you could say I am in a ‘stable’ relationship, as yes we are living together, but marriage is a long way off. That started more panic, ‘Oh God, I am going to be an old bride, if in fact I ever get to be a bride’. Then I worry more about the fact that I am one of the few women that I know who is going to turn 30 and that no one has proposed to, am I really that poor a catch?

Then the panic about having children sets in. I don’t actually like children, but hey I would like the option to have them, but surely my biological clock is already ticking, it’s almost as if I can already hear it. Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock. Perhaps I would like to have children, there was a time in my life when I wanted two, in fact I remember it precisely, I wanted a boy first and then a girl and would have been sorely disappointed if it had not worked out that way. Now I would just like the option to have a child, to actually find a mate who would like to have a child with me and before it is too late. There is goes again, tick tock, tick tock, tick tock.

Don’t even get me started on my career, as far back as I can remember I have always wanted to be an actress. For years I dreamt of being ‘found’, I lived the deluded dream that one day a Television or Film director would just come across me at Gerrards Cross train station whilst on my way home from school. It’s not like I actually attempted to ‘be’ an actress, I didn’t go to Drama School, or studying acting at college or University, I just thought that I was destined to be found. By the time I was 18 and hadn’t yet been ‘found’ I went to University to study Media in the hope that if I got a job in Television I would be ‘found’ behind the scenes, in the same way that Caroline Aherne was.

The biggest blow to my acting career came when the actor John Thaw, famous for playing Inspector Morse, died in 2002. I had spent since 1988 fantasising that my first acting role would be playing alongside John Thaw, I even came up with the idea that unknown to Inspector Morse he had actually fathered a child, and I would be the person cast to play that role of his daughter. The day John Thaw died marked the end of my ‘dream’. Since then I have just resigned myself to the fact that I was actually destined to be behind the camera and not in front of it.

I started work in television nearly nine years ago, and the nearest to being an actress was when I worked as a Script Supervisor on ‘Most Haunted’ for Living TV where I spent hours in the middle of night looking for ghosts with a DV Camera in hand. I finally have to face that career wise I will turn thirty never having accepted the BAFTA and Oscar that I had dreamt of .

Sheila Pansal and Ellen Jackson writers of the book ‘Turning 30’ say: “Remember when you were 20, when you danced till dawn, dated people you knew you shouldn’t, worked hard, played hard, spent money on stuff you didn’t need…..”

Well what’s really changed? OK, I don’t dance until dawn as much as I did when I was 20, but it’s only because most of my mates are married or settled down. As for dating men that I shouldn’t, I am living with a married man. I don’t think I could have ended up dating anyone less ‘suitable’, and I certainly wouldn’t have dated a married man when I was 20!

Working hard, well when I am working, yes I do work hard, bloody hard in fact, far harder than I would have done when I was in my early twenties. Back then I didn’t actually care so much for the job as I did for the pay packet.

And what about the spending money on things I shouldn’t, at 20 I was spending £25 on a top for a night out with the girls, at 29 and 10 months I have far more expensive taste and at certain times during my late twenties have been known to spend near on £1,000 on three items of clothing, hardly something I think that my bank manager would approve of.

The truth is that when you hit thirty you start to wonder what you want to do with your life, will you ever be happy, fulfilled or successful. I think that reality finally slaps you in the face and you realise that you have to stop fantasising about your future. There isn’t going to be a dream man with no baggage, who will whisk you off your feet and take you away to Paris for a candlelit meal for no other reason than that he loves you. That children don’t always come when you want them, and if you are lucky enough to have one, then the best time to have them is when they can be made is out of love and not just because one or other partner wants one. And that perhaps it was time to get focused on what you really wanted to do with your career, rather than haphazardly moving from job to job in the hope that one day you will actually be in a career that you enjoy, rather than working for money.

I was rather intrigued to find out that in Astrology there is a period between 28 and 30 called Saturn’s Return. According to astrologers it is the first time that Saturn completes a cycle through your birth chart and is in the same place that it was at the time of your birth. Astrologers believe this to be one of the most important times in your life, a time of endings and beginnings.

As with any new phase in life, embarking on something ‘new’ can feel unsettling and even unpleasant as we are taken out of the comfort zone of what we know. Saturn’s Return is about examining what you truly want or desire, and although it is a very trying time, remember that anyone else who has turned 30, no matter what position they were in has probably felt the same frustration, loneliness and alienation. You need to realise that you do have friends out there who are probably going or have gone through the same set of emotions and that it is not always good to shut people out. By talking to other people about how you feel you can hopefully come to some understanding of what you want from life.

At the end of the day whether it is Saturn’s Return or just a Quarter life crisis, what turning 30 symbolises is the fact that you are now embarking on adulthood. You are now a fully fledged adult, and with that comes the feeling of responsibility, a sense that you need to be accomplishing things.

So next time you panic that you’re not getting married, or having babies, or in the right job or relationship, just remember that it is a natural progression, it’s written in the stars. As soon as you’re past that actual birthday hopefully you can just get on and start enjoying finally being a grown up.

Saturday, 3 March 2007

Jesus Christ!

No, I'm not being blasphemous. But I just wanted to record the news that apparently they've only gone and found the big man's coffin! Yes, they have actually discovered the no-so-final resting place of JC himself. The number one, top dog, big cheese, etc., etc.

It would appear they discovered the coffin in Jerusalem back in 1980, and it's only because James Cameron (the Hollywood director behind
Terminator and Titanic) has made a TV documentary about it that it is now making the news!

Suffice to say archaeologists and theologians (i.e., the coffin boffins) aren't convinced. According to the BBC News website, the claim that the limestone box really did belong to Our Saviour seems to rest upon the idea that the coffin was found in a burial cave alongside other coffins marked with the names
Mary, Matthew, Jesua son of Joseph, Mary, Jofa (Joseph, Jesus' brother), and Judah son of Jesua.

What I liked was James Cameron's comment that finding all these coffins together was like finding a grave marked Ringo next to others marked John, Paul and George.

So does this mean that Jesus is finally as big as The Beatles again?

Passing time

I'm 36. I'll be 37 this year. So I guess it's to do with my age. But for a while now I have been wondering if there really is a point to life. Is each and everyone of us here for a reason? Do we each have a purpose that we're supposed to discover before our time is up?

If we come to the conclusion that there is no inherent purpose to life, then aren't we just passing time? Aren't we just finding things to do to occupy ourselves with while we're alive? This is the conclusion I came to about 2 years ago, and it depressed the hell out of me. So I guess that was one of the reasons I started reading books that put forward an alternative viewpoint. 'Spiritual' books you might call them. (As you'll see, as this blog progresses, there are many other reasons I started exploring these 'spiritual' concepts... but more on those later.)

In the past, I didn't really have much time for these kinds of books. But they gave some hope. They suggested that there was a point to life and that our mission, should we choose to accept it, was to discover our purpose in life. What have I got to lose, I thought. Let's see if there's anything in any of this.

If nothing else, it'll pass the time.


OK. So it only took me 6 months from setting up this blog to actually writing my first blog, but I finally made it!

Some of you I guess I know. Hello mum, dad, everyone who knows me, etc. (had to get that out of the way...) And hopefully, in time, there will be some of you who don't know me. In which case, hi... it's nice to meet you. I hope all of you get something out of these pages. If you do, please post a comment.

I guess some of may be wondering what it's all about. I know I am. And I don't just mean what this blog is going to be about (although that too!).

I'm referring to what's IT all about. Life. What are we here for? Is there a point to any of it? Well, that's what this blog is going to be about... at least in part. As with any other blog, I guess I'll also use it keep a record of life in general. So it might end up being a random collection of the thoughts by a man going through a mid-life crisis. Or it might end up being an important contribution to the ongoing discussion of the meaning of life! (I know what my money is on.)

Anyway, glad you could make it. Enjoy the ride.